Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Our own Science museum

We finished Jay's study of Going Green. This last weekend, our dining room was converted into a Science museum exhibit.

recyclable objects


notebooking pages                                                             lab sheets

He led tours through his exhibit (family & friends), explaining everything, telling them about the experiments he did, what he learned, etc. He loved doing it & is looking forward to his next exhibit (Ancient Egypt).

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

We made paper!

Today Dea worked on getting caught up (yes, she's behind already). She didn't get mch work done last week, so she's got this week to get the work done.

Jay & I made paper (Science project) and he mad a bleeding Shrinky Dink bug. He drew a bug on the Shrinky Dink plastic, then colored splotches of red & said the bug was bleeding (apparently, it got in a fight with a bigger, meaner bug). We also worked on parts of his 'exhibit' and stuff for his posterboard display. He's really have fun with school. Of course, the paper & plastic bug came after his Language Arts, Math, and Latin were finished for the day.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

I hope you all had a great Father's Day weekend.
Our weekend was a mix. Friday, my hubby went to his best friend's b-day party, the kids stayed at my hubby's parents' house, and I stayed home because my back hurt. We had a big storm that night & lost power for 14 hours. They finally got our power turned back on late Saurday morning. Sunday morning, it went out again. At least it wasn't off ofr long that time, only about 30-60 minutes. We had problems with our internet & cable all weekend long.
On Sunday, we had a cookout with my sister, her boyfriend, and my mom. The kids had a water gun fight, played, ate, and had a great time. We all enjoyed ourselves. I've been a little out of it all day, though. My dad let us borrow his generator, in case power went out again, so we could at least have our fridge/freezer working. My hubby put it in the basement, along with the can of gasoline. The fumes from the gas seem to only affect me. I've been tired, nauseated, had a headache, and generally felt like crap since last night. Being outside for the cookout today helped, though. I'm hoping to feel better by morning.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Oh, the beautiful sounds in the middle of the night

It's almost 2am. I just finished doing some dishes. I'm on a break from my schoolwork. I did 20min on the exercise bike, finished loading the dishwasher, washed some pots & pans, and now I'll do a few things online before I start some more schoolwork. I put on a movie. It's called Jack-O and sounds like a really awful movie. I figure it'll be great background noise for while I study or read. So, I'm sitting here deciding whether to study more or grab one of the 6 or so books I'm currently reading. Seeing as it's almost 2am, sleep would be the choice of most people. However, thanks to my insomnia, I'm not tired at all.
I just heard a beautiful sound - the sound of thunder rolling across the sky. It makes me want to go dance in the rain. It has been so long since I've done that. If it rains tomorrow, I think I'll take the kids out to dance.

Monday, June 14, 2010

I want to rearrange the library

I love books. My dream house would have a huge library, with floor to ceiling shelves. So, you would think I would enjoy trips to the library. I must admit, however, I don't enjoy our library as much as you would think.
You see, I don't like the way it's organized. I don't like the Dewey Decimal System. I know that sounds crazy, and you're probably wondering why. It's quite simple really. I should be able to find all the books on a topic, in the same area. When looking for books on Ancient Egypt, I shouldn't have to go to a different area to get books on Egyptian Mythology. There's no reason for Robin Hood to be directly next to Greek & Roman Myths (an entirely different place than the Egyptian Mythology, might I add). It irritates me that I have to look in so many areas for books on one topic.
I also don't like that the fiction books are organized alphabetically by author. What if you don't know what book you want? What if you know what genre or topic you want, but wanted to browse the options? You could do that, but it would take forever. The fiction books should be organized by genre - Historical Fiction, Horror, Sci-fi - or by topic - Vampires, Wizards, Classics, etc. That way, you could browse the topic or genre of interest & not have to know exactly what book you want before you get there.
So, I want to rearrange the library. It would make so much more sense organized my way.

How we Organize our Homeschool pt.1

Organization is a big topic in the homeschooling community. We're always looking for new & better ways to organize all the stuff - materials, projects, curriculum - that comes with homeschooling & can lead to clutter if we're not careful. We also need to find ways to organize our schedules & time. We have the same 24 hours in a day that everyone else has, and we have so much we need to fit into that small time frame. As a result, organization is a very common topic in homeschool groups & message boards.

So, I thought I'd share a bit about how we organize our homeschool.

We have a lot of stuff for homeschooling. I keep the non-consumable stuff when Dea is done with it, if I think Jay might use it. Plus, the kids aren't at just one grade level in all subjects. So, we have a huge range of materials (right now, 1st grade through high school level), in many subjects (not just the core subjects). Plus, there's all the finished work & projects. All of this stuff could be an organizational nightmare. Luckily, I'm an uber-organized freak.

We have tons of books & they obviously need a place to live. We have 6 bookcases, all overfilled, in the large open doorway between the office & living room. Here's a pic of where 2 of the bookcases meet.

The blue rectancgle on the side is a self-adhesive chalkboard. Each kids has one. All their subjects are listed on them & they can erase them as they finish them for the day.

Our Arts & Crafts room is where most of our homeschool stuff & our arts & crafts supplies are stored. We have a bookcase that contains our school binders, workbooks, materials for the current year, teacher books/answer keys. Next to the bookcase is the cabinet that holds the hands-on stuff. I have several shoebox sized Rubbermaid boxes that hold Math manipulatives, small Science tools, basic supplies (pens, pencils, erasers, etc), flashcards, and other small items. There's also a few larger containers that hold some of the larger items. The cabinet also holds all the paper, LeapPads & LeapPad Books, balance scale, and vaious other materials.

As I said, this room also holds the arts & crafts supplies.

This cabinet holds several types of paper & a few other things

The white set of drawers holds the crayons, markers, clay, and containers of small pieces.

The blue & clear drawers hold the thread & yarn.

The shelves hold Rubbermaid boxes with felt, stamps & ink pads, adhesives, sewing stuff, etc. They also have the paint, kits, Plaster of Paris, and more.

So, that's how we organize all the materials for our homeschooling. I hope some of you found this helpful (or at least interesting).

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Science, who says it's boring?

Science, for us, is very hands-on. We're really into getting involved, doing experiments, and Scientific observation. We don't use Science textbooks before high school level. When Dea was learning about Weather in 4th grade, we read books from the library, watched educational shows about Weather, and researched it online. However, we also put up a Weather Station in the backyard. Dea recorded temps, precipitation, barometric pressure, etc., for weeks. She looked at the clouds to determine what type they were, compared her findings to the weather reports on the local news, and checked her weather station several times a day. Her study of Geology led to the start of the rock collection that has overtaken the top floor of our house. When we did experiments with surface tension, we discussed what we thought would happen & then, what actually happened (and why). The Scienctific Method is regularly used in our house, though it may not always be recorded with lab sheets, reports, or other concrete, lasting ways.
Jay is now learning to use the Scientific Method. He's taking this week off school due to sleep issues & a minor head injury. However, he still needed to check the experiments he started last week. He had to check his cup of dirt with a leaf in it. His observations were that the leaf pieces are turning brown & getting limp and smaller, and that the whole cup has a smell of decay. He also had to check his mini-compost. His observations on that were that it's harder to identify the individual items, there's more moisture in the compost tube, and there is mold growing. He then decided that he should smell that one, too. So, the kids took it outside to open it. They came back in looking rather nauseated. They said it was very stinky - like bad coffee mixed with banana and a hint of mold. It might not be the most Scientific sounding observation, but it's a very descriptive one.

Dea is doing High School Biology this year. There is less hands-on work than in previous years, but there's still some. She needs to make a model of a plant cell, using only natural objects. She's decided to make an edible one - a cake. She'll be doing that this weekend.

Netflix & Roku

A few months ago, we decided to try out Netflix.We LOVE it! Our public library library has a decent selection of movies, but they're often scratched & filthy (I swear I've seen tongue prints on some), and the wait for them cana be very long. We live on a budget, so going to the video store regularly isn't an option. With Netflix, we get tons of educational DVDs, plus movies & TV shows. We don't like watching movies & shows on the computer, especially if it's somehting for all of us to watch, and we don't have any video game systems. So, we bought the Roku. The Roku is a little black box that connects to the TV & sits ontop of the TV or DVD player (just like a cable box). With the Roku, we can watch everything in out Netflix instant watch queue on our TV, whenever we want, on the Netflix channel. The Roku has other channels as well. We haven't used the other channels yet, so I'm not sure how much it would cost to use any of them. The Roku is a one time fee, not a monthly subscription. Of course, we need to pay our monthly subscription fee to Netflix or we wouldn't be able to access our Netflix acct with our Roku.
I'm really loving having the Roku & Netflix, though. We get DVDs sent to us in the mail, get to choose the order the DVDs get sent, and they come quickly. In addition to the many DVDs we have in our queue, we have hundreds of items in our instant watch queue. They have a ton of educational shows & documentaries. I can find something on pretty much anything the kids would want to learn about. Our instant watch queue has tons of documentaries, shows we can't regularly watch without having Cable, and movies (some for the kids, some for us, some for all of us to watch together). Having Netflix & the Roku are already making a difference in our homeschooling. We don't have to wait to watch something related to what they're studying, and we aren't completely at the mercy of what's available at the library.
If you have Netflix but no way to stream to your TV, I highly recommend getting a Roku.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy

Wow, this week has been busy! I've been meaning to post all week, but just haven't had time.
Dea's had some problems with school this week. I tried to let her check over her own work, and she decided to lie about how she did. She handed in several Math assignments that showed complete lack of effort. Plus, she tried to pass off some work as finished when it was only about 1/2 done. In addition to all of that, she's had an awful attitude this week. It might be partially about the fact that her work is mostly book work, right now. She sees Jay doing all this fun stuff & tends to get a bit jealous. She really needs to deal with it, though. Life isn't easy, and we have to do things we don't want to do. You can't decide not to do something just because it isn't fun. She needs to learn this now, before she gets out into the real world. Plus, we do have some really fun stuff planned for her year; there's just less hands-on work (though more complex) than previous years, due to the level she's working at.

Jay's schooling has been fun this week. He's really enjoying learning Latin. He's having a fantastic time learning about Ancient Egypt. He enjoys doing the Notebooking Pages, but it's a lot of writing for him so he writes some & dictates some. We're doing the same thing for the Notebooking Pages for Science. This week, we've started on some of the great projects & labs. We made a sand art Eye of Horus, made a sticker cartouche with his name (this was the second one we made, one will go on his Ancient Egypt posterboard & the other went on his Notebooking Page on Hieroglyphs), and painted some pictures on papyrus. In Science, he started two labs that will take weeks to be complete. One is a leaf buried in soil that he has to check every few days to observe what happens. The other is a mini-compost that he has to check twice a week to observe the composting process. Tomorrow we're doing one about water vapor & this weekend we're doing one we had planned to do earlier this week (it needs a banana & the kids ate all the bananas). He's also been enjoying the shows & documentaries I've found for him for Science & History. Yesterday, he decided that instead of  reading quietly, he wanted to read to me. So, he read me four chapters of the Goosebumps he's currently reading. Right now, he's in my bed reading. I think he'll be finished today, tomorrow at the latest. He's considering reading George's Secret Key to the Universe next. I'm not sure if he will or not; he often changes his mind about what to read.